Halloween Cover Show

Sit down, Santa



What: Halloween Cover Show
When: Fri., Oct. 19 and Sat., Oct. 20
Where: Make.Shift, 306 Flora St.
Cost: $6-$10

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Christmas creep has begun.

Ads for Christmas-related products are showing up in my newsfeed. Television promos tout upcoming marathons of holiday movies. A piece of spam asking if I’d started making holiday travel plans yet showed up in my inbox.

It’s not even daylight savings time yet. We have whole months and other major holidays to dispense with before we haul out the holly.

Sit down, Santa. Halloween is on the horizon.

Supposedly Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but in Bellingham, Halloween is the holiday closest to our collective heart. And we don’t just celebrate on Oct. 31—we start early, peak on Halloween and are more than willing to let the party bleed into November when necessary.

At the present moment, people are cobbling together costumes, watching horror movies, tricking out their houses and laying in a store of treats in anticipation of the haunting holiday—and a whole bunch of local musicians are practicing and preparing for a variety of Halloween shows, the first of which take place Fri., Oct. 19 and Sat., Oct. 20 at Make.Shift.

For the past three years, the all-ages venue has hosted a Halloween Cover Show, formerly known as the Spooky Cover Show, which began as the creepy cousin to Make.Shift’s Valentine’s Day Cover show, formerly known as the Pop Punk Cover Show.

It sounds a lot more confusing than it is. Here’s the crux: A bunch of bands that only exist for one night (in most cases) play the songs of famous bands and the whole thing is a good time every time.

Like everyone else, I love the cover shows for a lot of reasons. Because the bands often come together less out of intention and more out love for a particular artist, you’ll always see people playing music together who would never share a stage were it not for these shows. Also, the fact that it’s a cover show removes the obstacles of needing to write original material, and participants go into the event knowing they’ll be playing songs already known and, in many cases, loved. This lowers the barrier to entry considerably, which draws musicians who might not have the time, energy or experience to devote to the demands of a band that’s expected to play more than once. But in my opinion, what makes the covers shows important beyond just frivolous fun is that, well, they’re just frivolous fun. All of the humor and good-natured risk and willingness to be ridiculous that is sometimes absent from shows is evident in abundance for the two nights of the covers extravaganza and we are all better for having participated in or witnessed it.

However, by far the best thing about both the Halloween and Valentine’s Day cover shows is the bands people choose to cover. At every iteration, I eagerly await the announcement of what bands musicians have chosen—and I have not yet been disappointed.

Initially, the idea behind the Halloween Cover Show was that the bands chosen should relate to or otherwise have the holiday in mind. But when one of the rules is that the same band cannot be covered two years in a row, the supply of Halloween bands is not ample enough to meet the demand. So, much in the same way that the Valentine’s Cover Show dropped its pop-punk emphasis, the Halloween version has expanded its to include any music that’s vaguely “scary,” goth or punk—or anything worthy within spitting distance of those things.

The fact that last’s bands are disqualified from being covered this year means you won’t hear music by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Green Day, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Devo, MXPX, Smashing Pumpkins, My Bloody Valentine, Evanescence, or Panic! At the Disco.

What you will hear is the weirdest mix of music to appear on any stage in town since the last covers show, yet another reason to love these events. Per usual, each night has its doozies.

Friday night’s lineup includes folks covering the Doors, Black Flag, Beach House, and the Deftones. And because there’s always one right out of left field, the band rounding out the night will be Coheed and Cambria. Every year, someone makes a selection that causes me to say, “I can’t believe people learned those songs just for one night,” and this year, this is that band.

Saturday night’s roster is equally random, with Nirvana, Husker Du, Audioslave, and Ministry set to be covered. The deep cut of the weekend is OG goth band 45 Grave, who are a perfect choice for the weekend with their campy horror flick aesthetic. Also mining the more obscure musical depths is whoever is covering Box Car Racer, a short-lived—as in one album and one tour—project by Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker.

It’s impossible to predict how this year’s show is going to go and who the standouts will be, but it’s certain to be a glorious mess of a good time. Because when it comes to the covers shows, much like with Halloween itself, you never know what you’re going to get. And while Christmas creep might indeed be real, nothing is creepier around these parts than Halloween.

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